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MH17 disaster – 6 things to know today

Shock gives way to recriminations, making a thorough and impartial investigation difficult.DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP--Getty Images

Investigation: The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency session Friday and is set to demand “a full and transparent international investigation,” according to Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon. The Orgnaization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said separatist groups in Donetsk, who control the area around the crash site, had agreed to cooperate, but Ukrainian authorities said they have not been given access to the airplane’s flight recorders, or ‘black boxes’, both of which were recovered overnight by the separatists. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko claimed the separatists intend to send them to Russia, obstructing the international investigation.

Ceasefire: Representatives of the separatist government in the Donetsk region were quoted as saying they were willing to discuss a ceasefire, after calls from numerous world leaders including President Barack Obama.

Passengers: The variety of nationalities among the plane’s 280 passengers illustrates how widely the impact of the conflict has now spread. Among the dead, there were 173 Dutch, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 9 Britons, 4 Germans, 4 Belgians, 3 Filipinos and one Canadian. The nationality of 20 passengers is still to be verified. Three of the dead were infants, and around 100 were doctors and other delegates travelling to an international conference on AIDS. It is still not clear whether any U.S. citizens were on the flight.

The Blame Game: U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden said the plane had been “blown out of the sky” by a missile, without directly accusing anyone, but White House officials said they hold Russia responsible for fomenting the crisis in general. Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the Ukrainian government for failing to bring peace to the east of the country. Ukraine’s President has accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting the plane down. The separatists say they don’t have the weaponry that could do that, and point the finger at the Ukrainian air and ground forces. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice swiftly “if it transpires that the plane was shot down.”

Airspace: Ukrainian authorities have fully closed the airspace above eastern Ukraine, forcing airlines to re-route many of their flights. Most of the routes affected are from Europe to Asia, as with MH17. Airlines from the Middle East, Europe and Asia all face longer flying times on the affected routes, which will add to fuel costs and hit profitability, unless they can pass those costs on.

Markets: Most European markets were down again in the first half of the day, while oil prices have shot up $4 a barrel since the news of the crash, as markets price in the risk that tensions between the West and Russia could lead to further sanctions, and even the disruption of world energy supplies.